Secrets of the Overcoming Life: Knowing Where Your Hope Lies (Part 2)

It is said that a drowning man will clutch at a straw. I like the Collins Dictionary definition of this idiom:

when hope of success is fading, people will try anything, no matter how unlikely it is that it will provide a solution.

Sometimes we find ourselves drowning in the sea of life and immediately we clutch at the first thing we see even though it is the proverbial straw. A straw is not stable. A straw is light and can be blown away easily. There are some people who are drowning in loneliness and they hold onto the first person that comes their way. They place their trust in the first person that shows any interest in their life. As time goes by that lonely person recognizes that they were actually holding a straw.

They are some who are drowning in debt and they hold onto the first sign of hope that comes their way of paying off that debt. Maybe it was a ‘get rich quick’ scheme or some new investment deal with a high payout. In the end they find themselves in the same place or in an even worse position because they placed their hope in something which could not give them deliverance.

I know what it feels like to be drowning in debt but I also know what it feels like to be delivered from debt. In those moments when the issues of life are strangling us and burying us we need to know where our hope lies. We need to know where our deliverance will come from. The Bible records that Peter found himself sinking in the water in the midst of a storm. Even though he was faithfully walking towards Jesus he allowed the circumstances around him to disrupt his faith and he began to sink. Even though he did not have the faith to continue walking on the water; even though he was sinking in the water, he did not clutch at a straw. In that moment of despair Peter knew where his hope lied:

But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. (Matthew 14:30 NLT)

Peter shouted three words “Save me, Lord”. Peter knew his hope did not lie in the boat with the other disciples. He knew his hope was in Jesus. Jesus is our hope. He is not only our hope of eternal life. He is our hope of salvation in this life. Jesus is our hope in the darkness. He is our hope in the storm. He is our hope when we are depressed. He is our hope when we are stressed. When there is nothing in our life that we can hold onto and receive salvation, Jesus is always standing there waiting for us to call on Him for help.

The Bible also records that as soon as Peter shouted for Jesus to save him, Jesus “immediately reached out and grabbed him…” (Matthew 14:31 NLT). Jesus did not hesitate. Jesus saved Peter as soon as the words left Peter’s mouth.

We have a Saviour that is “always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1 NLT).

We have a Saviour that has promised: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT)

We have a Saviour who said “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

OUR HOPE LIES IN JESUS CHRIST!

Secrets of the Overcoming Life: Knowing Where Your Hope Lies (Part 1)

There is one thing that adversity, trouble, problems, negative circumstances and bad news do to us as human beings:

They cause us to lose hope

News of high levels of unemployment can cause us to lose hope of finding a job. Losing a job in the midst of a recession can cause us to lose hope of being able to take care of ourselves or our family. A bad report from the doctor can cause us to lose hope of having a long, healthy life. However, the Bible reminds us that we can overcome adversity, trouble, problems, negative circumstances and bad news if we know where our hope lies. If we know that the source of our hope is not in this world but in the Word of God then we can overcome adversity. If we know that the source of our hope is not in what men and women have said about tomorrow but in what God has said about tomorrow then we can overcome bad news. If we know that the source of our hope is not in the stability of our physical environment but in the stability of our spiritual environment then we can overcome trouble and problems.

Abram’s wife Sarai was barren. She could not have children. There was no in vitro fertilization available to help Abram and Sarai. All hope on earth that they could have children was gone. It did not help that they were old. However, one day Abram heard the voice of God and God told him something amazing:

“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. (Genesis 12:1-2 NLT)

There was only one way for God to make Abram into a “great nation”. Abram needed a son. After Abram heard the Word of God and obeyed God spoke to him again:

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” (Genesis 12:7 NLT)

A descendant is the biological offspring of someone. Abram and Sarai’s circumstances told them that they could not have children but God told Abram that his biological offspring would possess the land of Canaan.

Sometime after God spoke to Abram and Abram questioned God about not having any descendants. Abram looked at his situation and said that one of his servants will be his heir. However, God told Abram:

“No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Genesis 15:4-5 NLT)

Abram and his wife were old and Sarai was barren. Now God was saying that not only will Abram have a son of his own but he will have so many descendants that they could not be counted. Abram’s response to the Word of God is a secret to living an overcoming life:

…Abram believed the LORD… (Genesis 15:6 NLT)

Abram believed the Word of God. Abram believed that what God said would actually happen. Abram’s hope of having a son of his own and having many descendants rested in the Word of God and not in his earthly circumstances. There is hope within the Word of God. Your entire world may be falling apart but if God says that you are on solid ground then you have the hope that you will overcome.

The Psalmist David said:

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NLT)

The Psalmist knew that God said that he would never leave him. Therefore, even in the “darkest valley” or the “valley of the shadow of death” he would not be afraid. Why? Because his hope was not in the path that he was walking on. His hope was in the Word of God.  Some of us walk through paths of adversity and trouble that seem to be never ending but the Bible reminds us that all hope is not lost. If God says that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel there is hope. And if there is hope then you must keep walking until you see the light.

Always remember:

Our hope does not lie in the circumstances we face. Our hope lies in what God has said about our circumstances. Our hope lies in the promises that God has given to us through His Son Jesus Christ. When we know where our hope lies (in the Word of God) then we can boldly move forward knowing that we will overcome.

Day 25: God Always Remembers His Promises

Can you remember any of the conversations you had with others two days ago? I can vaguely remember the conversations but I certainly cannot remember every word I said. The Bible is filled with many conversations between God and human beings. Within those conversations we will discover that God made promises. Those promises were not fulfilled immediately. Sometimes it took months before those promises were fulfilled. Sometimes it took several years before those promises were fulfilled. Sometimes it took several centuries before those promises were fulfilled.

In life many promises are unfulfilled because of the amount of time that has expired. However, in the Kingdom of God, promises do not expire with time. God always remembers the promises He has made to His children and to His creation. God promised to save Noah and his family along with all kinds of animals from the flood. The flood covered the earth for several days while Noah, his family and the animals were in the Ark:

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede. (Genesis 8:1 NLT)

God promised Abraham that He would deliver his descendants from bondage. The children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt for more than 400 years. They were suffering and experiencing severe hardships. They forgot about the God of their fathers. However, when they cried for help, God heard them:

God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. (Exodus 2:24-25 NLT)

God promised the children of Israel that He would send a Messiah (Saviour) to deliver them and be their King forever. Several centuries passed since those promises were made. The Romans were in control. Spiritual darkness covered the land. The people of Israel were in bondage to sickness, diseases and demonic activity. God remembered His promise and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to deliver them:

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness… and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. (Matthew 4:23-24 NLT)

Sometimes it is easy to forget the promises that we have made to others. We are human beings and many things fade from our memory as time goes by. Nevertheless, be encouraged by this fact:

God always remembers His promises 

Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. (Romans 15:8 NLT)

Day 24: You Can Stand on God’s Promises

A promise is a powerful thing. A promise can motivate us when we feel discouraged. A promise can strengthen us when we feel weak. An employer promises to pay his employees a salary at the end of every month. This promise motivates those employees to wake up early and travel to their workplace. This promise motivates those employees to travel through the rain and the snow to reach their workplace. In other words, that promise made by their employer strengthened their resolve to get to work in spite of whatever obstacles they faced each day.

We are motivated by mere human promises. What about the promises that our Heavenly Father has made? God’s promises are guaranteed. God’s promises are reinforced by His nature and character:

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19 NLT)

Sometimes we forget to fulfill the promises we have made. Sometimes we are unable to fulfill a promise we have made because of the uncertainties of life. God is not subject to human failure. God is not subject to human weakness. God is not limited by the uncertainties of life. We can trust God’s promises twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year.

We can trust God’s promises in the wilderness:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” (Exodus 16:11-12 NLT)

We can trust God’s promises in the fire:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. (Daniel 3:16-17 NLT)

We can trust God’s promises in the storm:

For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. (Acts 27:23-25 NLT)

There are many buildings in this world which were built to endure natural disasters. God’s promises are built to endure natural and spiritual disasters. God promised Jesus that He would not leave his soul in the grave (Psalm 16:10). Jesus stood on God’s promises and willingly died on the cross to save the entire world. Three days later God raised Jesus from the dead. The strongest building can fall. The strongest rock can be broken but God’s promises can never fail. Your world may be falling apart but you can plant your feet upon God’s promises.

God is our refuge and strength,

always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come

and the mountains crumble into the sea.

Let the oceans roar and foam.

Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!

(Psalm 46:1-3 NLT)